Wednesday, June 4, 2014

U.S. trade deficit

The U.S. trade deficit widened to its highest level in two years in April as imports hit a record high, suggesting trade could be a drag on second-quarter growth. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday the trade gap increased 6.9 percent to $47.2 billion. That was the largest since April 2012 and followed March’s revised $44.2 billion gap.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected the deficit to widen only to $40.8 billion from a previously reported $40.4 billion shortfall. The government also published its annual benchmark revisions with Wednesday’s data. When adjusted for inflation, the deficit increased to $53.8 billion from $50.9 billion in March.Trade subtracted almost a percentage point from first-quarter gross domestic product. The economy contracted at a 1.0 percent annual pace in the first three months of the year.
Imports increased 1.2 percent to an all-time high of $240.6 billion in April. Imports of automobiles, capital goods, food and consumer goods all hit record highs in April. Futures advanced as much as 0.8 percent in New York. Crude stockpiles fell by 1.4 million barrels last week as supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI, slid 300,000 barrels, the American Petroleum Institute said yesterday. Government data today is forecast to show a 250,000 barrel drop nationwide, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Oil companies concerned over fighting in Libya eastern city of Benghazi are evacuating workers, state-run news agency Lana reported.
Gold is poised to climb for a second straight day after a private report showed U.S. companies added fewer jobs than forecast in May, boosting demand for the precious metal as a haven investment. The 179,000 increase in employment was the smallest in four months and followed a 215,000 gain in April that was less than initially estimated, according to the ADP Research Institute. Gold gained 3.5 percent this year through yesterday amid concern that U.S. economic growth was stalling.Prices slumped 28 percent in 2013 on concern that the Federal Reserve would trim stimulus as the labor market improved. Through June 2, the metal fell for six straight sessions, the longest slump since August, as U.S. equities rose to a record.